There are few worse feelings than that as you pant on a train platform and amused passengers stare at you from a slowly moving carriage. You miss out on something by just a few seconds and some strangers make fun of you, and you’re frustrated to miss the train as well as embarrassed people saw you. Now imagine a similar situation where instead the train is full of friends of yours. If you now replace the train with a romantic spark, you’ve arrived at this week’s topic: romantic missed connections.
By such a term, I refer to occasions where two partners who, in an ideal world, could work romantically, end up never trying a relationship because of unfortunate circumstances. There are so many situations in which such a missed connection may occur. Maybe you turned them down early on and can’t go back on the decision, you befriended them when they weren’t single, neither of you made the first move and it’s too late to change that. Regardless, it’s a helpless feeling wherein you’re romantically (or sexually, hey missing a fuck sucks as well) interested in someone and it just isn’t going to happen.
Worse still is when the potential has been addressed in the past. If you agreed, at one point, to just remain friends, it isn’t easy to try and navigate a space that goes further than that without betraying the friendship at hand. So how best can we go about this double bind?
I would begin by suggesting that in many ways, this is just a case of unreciprocated affection. Reducing scenarios to essentialist narratives is an unhelpful pattern in many ways, but in this case it’s worth remembering why it feels so difficult to let go of the potential. I’d say it’s because the potential existed at one point, and old flames die hard. But if the other party is fully satisfied with a friendship, your disbelief in this being enough is a mark of distrust, or at least a denial of the other party’s opinion. Regret and longing are different, and although in this case both aren’t great, it feels important to make sure we stick to the former out of respect for all those involved.
There still exists the possibility, of course, that you aren’t the only person feeling this way, that you and that girl are both awkward as fuck and aren’t catching onto the fact that you’re into each other. By fear of sounding repetitive (I do say this often), I will not dwell on the importance of communicating your desires and intentions within any sort of relationship. However, as much as it would be an ideal scenario to have the pair of you fall into each other’s arms in some amorous embrace as a chorus of well-meaning friends cheer in the background, it’s best to follow my grandmother’s advice and expect the worst to avoid disappointment.
Friends, in my experience, can play a crucial role in this kind of situation. Embarrassing as it is to have romantic potential you were hoping for slip away from you publically, friends can also be there to guide you and prevent you from falling into toxic thought patterns. It is so easy, when alone with someone you’re into, to forget about the logistics of the situation and enjoy the moment for all it’s kinda fucked up glory; few things will bring you back to Earth better than a knowing glare as you walk towards your friends with the person you’re interested in. It is important to have reminders of the wider situation we are in. On another note, spending time with said person and other friends might help internalize a normalized dynamic with them, since there is no way to misconstrue a group homework drawl as something more romantic (can you even picture a first kiss over a stat homework? How tacky).
But really, as much as external presences may help, resolving this issue comes down to you. You may have noticed that I’ve been working under the assumption that the ideal scenario would be getting over them, and to a certain extent I take that to be true: everything would be a lot easier if that crush weren’t there. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the shimmer of eventual possibility, or even a quietened hope, but the reason why you missed your chance is probably that you and the other person make good friends. And as a friend, you owe them the respect to trust their desires and ability to communicate with you effectively what they want to do.